Prenatal Massage in Andersonville Chicago
Pregnancy is a normal human condition that is often a happy and healthy time for the expectant mother. However, pregnancy can also be a stressful time when planning for the future and can sometimes be an uncomfortable time with all of the physical changes that occur in your body. When done by an experienced and trained professional, massage therapy can help you mitigate the stress in your body and even have health benefits for you and your child. (1,7,8)
Benefits of Prenatal Massage
A survey of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published in 2017 reported that the majority of physicians surveyed believed that prenatal massage therapy was moderately to highly effective when used as an adjunct to medical care. (5) Unfortunately, much of the Pregnancy massage therapy research interpreted to date cannot be deemed scientifically significant due to small sample sizes and other study limitations. However, the studies that have been done and done well do show a positive correlation between prenatal massage and the health of the expectant mother particularly in the areas of stress reduction and pain reduction. (6,8,10)
Researchers have demonstrated that massage therapy can benefit both the pregnant woman and her unborn child, especially for mothers that are experiencing severe stress or depression. Stress in the mother has been associated with an increased potential for physical and neurological diseases in the child so it is an important symptom to address for both mother and child.
Research and anecdotal evidence suggest that massage therapy can help the expectant mother manage stress as well as reduce her physical discomfort. Massage therapy benefits for the expectant mother include (1,2,3,9,10):
Reduction in Stress Hormones
Massage therapy activates the parasympathetic nervous system and inhibits the sympathetic nervous system, so your body produces fewer stress hormones.
Fewer Birth Complications for the Mother
Stress can affect the blood flow to the uterus, which can result in long, difficult labor, as well as other complications. Massage therapy can help reduce stress and improve blood flow.
Fewer Instances of Newborn Complications Such as Low Birth Weight
Maternal stress can result in complications. Massage helps reduce maternal stress.
Nurturing and respectful touch can give an expectant mother an increased sense of peace during an uncertain time.
Reduced Leg Swelling
Massage improves the circulation of lymph, which can reduce swelling in the legs. Lymph drainage techniques can help move fluid out of the legs.
Reduced Sciatic Pain
Relaxing the muscles around the low back and hips can take pressure off the sciatic nerve.
Reduced Back Pain
The back can be painful during pregnancy due to postural alterations. Massage can help relieve stressed muscles and provide an analgesic effect.
Reduced Muscle Tension
Reductions in stress as well as improving circulation to muscles and joints can reduce muscle tension.
Headaches can result from both stress and muscle tension. Massage can reduce the frequency and severity of headaches.
Less Joint Pain
Joints often are painful during pregnancy due to their increased laxity. Massage can help by increasing circulation to the joints and reducing muscle spasms that put stress on the joints.
Swedish massage techniques are designed to aid in proper circulation.
Improved Sleep Quality
Reduced stress and pain results in improved sleep.
What to Expect During a Pregnancy Massage
How is Prenatal Massage Different from a Regular Swedish Massage
When you schedule a prenatal massage, you should expect the massage therapist to make some changes in techniques. These changes are usually dependent on which trimester you are in. Although the most recommended and used techniques for a pregnant patient are Swedish Massage techniques, there are some alterations needed. Pregnancy alters your physiology. This can alter the types of massage modalities that are most beneficial for you.
In your first trimester, your massage may be very similar to your normal massages, since you will probably still be comfortable lying face-down.
After the first 10-14 weeks of pregnancy, your body begins to secrete a higher than normal amount of the hormone relaxin. This hormone softens connective tissue so that the body can widen for pregnancy and childbirth. This also leaves your joints overly mobile and increases the stress on your load-bearing joints. It may also take longer for your blood pressure to stabilize when you change position due to the increased workload on your heart. Starting late in the first trimester or early in the second trimester of pregnancy, your body also secretes more blood-clotting factors. This helps prevent severe blood loss or hemorrhage during delivery, but also makes you more prone to developing blood clots in your legs. Because of these changes, massage techniques are altered.
These changes include using gentler pressure, especially on your legs. Many of the recommended massage techniques for use on the legs during pregnancy are gentle lymph drainage techniques, which aid in the reduction of swelling. Your position during the massage may need to be changed, especially in later stages of pregnancy to avoid excessive pressure on your abdomen or blood pressure changes. Once you are past your first trimester, you can expect that much of your pregnancy massages in our office will be done with you in a side-lying position. In some instances, you may also be positioned in a semi-reclined position, where your head and upper body are elevated. From time to time, our therapists will use special pregnancy bolsters, pillows and other props to make sure you are comfortable and well supported, to protect your joints, and ensure the massage is relaxing. (1,2,3,4)
Safety of Prenatal Massage
Massage therapy is generally safe during pregnancy; however, there are certain precautions that a prenatal massage therapist takes to ensure that your massage poses no risk to your pregnancy.
Lotions and Oils
In our office, we only use safe and natural massage lotions when needed. We never use aromatherapy because this helps prevent nausea or other reactions to odors. We also do not use essential oils, even those that are safe for pregnancy.
Deep Strokes on the Legs
Because of the risk of blood clots during pregnancy, your therapist will avoid using deep strokes on your legs. Instead, they will use a gentler pressure.
To avoid blood pressure fluctuations, no heat treatments (such as hot stones) are done during pregnancy massage.
Your therapist will be conservative when doing stretches and joint mobilization to avoid hyperextension of your now-looser joints. He or she will use bolsters, pillows, and wedges as needed for your comfort.
Acupressure and Reflexology Points
Your therapist will also avoid placing prolonged pressure on certain acupressure or reflexology points that could cause uterine contractions. (1,2)
Always provide feedback to your massage therapist about how your massage feels and how you feel, this will help you get the most from your prenatal massage. Your massage therapist will often times ask you questions regarding your pregnancy. This will help them decide when your next visit should be.
Choosing a Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist
There is no national certifying body for prenatal massage therapy. Most massage therapists receive basic pregnancy massage training in school. In addition, massage therapists such as those in our office, obtain an additional certification which are available through various training organizations.
When you are looking for an experienced and well-trained prenatal massage therapist, ask about how many hours of hands-on training and experience they have.
Most women with healthy pregnancies have little to worry about with prenatal massage therapy. The more complicated the pregnancy is, the more important it is to have a prenatal massage therapist who is educated and aware of the necessary precautions and warning signs.
Including Pregnancy Massage into Your Regular Prenatal Care
Prenatal massage therapy is a safe and effective way to help manage your stress and body aches during pregnancy. As a complement to your regular prenatal medical care, getting a regular prenatal massage during pregnancy can help you reduce depression or anxiety, sleep better, and have fewer aches and pains. Call our office today to schedule your prenatal massage 773.878.7330!
1. Stillman, Elaine. Massage for Moms-to-Be. Massage & Bodywork. November/December 2015. ABMP.
2. Osborne, Caroline. Baby Watch: Addressing Extremity and Neck Pain During Pregnancy. Massage & Bodywork. November/December 2015. ABMP.
3. American Pregnancy Association. Massage and Pregnancy – Prenatal Massage. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/prenatal-massage/. Accessed 14 Aug 2018.
4. AMTA. Pregnancy Massage. Massage Therapy Journal. 15 Aug 2011. https://www.amtamassage.org/articles/3/MTJ/detail/2419/pregnancy-massage. Accessed 14 Aug 2018.
5. Babbar, S; Williams, KB; Maulik, D. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use in Modern Obstetrics. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 2017. Vol 22(3):429-435.
6. Hall, H; Cramer, H; Sundberg, T; Ward, L; Adams, J; Moore, C; Sibbrit, D; Lauche, R. The effectiveness of complementary manual therapies for pregnancy-related back and pelvic pain: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Medicine. 2016. 95:38.
7. ABMP. Is Massage OK During Pregnancy? Body Sense Magazine. Spring/Summer 2005.
8. Field, T. Massage Therapy Research Review. HHS Public Access Author Manuscript. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice; available in PMC 21 Aug 2017. Published in final edited form as Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2016 August; 24: 19–31.
9. Field, T. Pregnancy and Labor Massage. NIH Public Access Author Manuscript. Expert Review of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Author manuscript; available in PMC 1 Jan 2011. Published in final edited form as Expert Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010 March; 5(2): 177–181.
10. Hollenbach, D; Broker, R; Herlehy, S; Stuber, K. Non-pharmacological interventions for sleep quality and insomnia during pregnancy: A systematic review. Journal of Canadian Chiropractic Association. 2013; 57(3).